DANCE; Cyclorama set for Monkey business

by Theodore Bale
Published 10/18/2001
Boston Herald


The solid brick floor at the Boston Cyclorama may be a bit of a challenge for the average dance company, but for Wire Monkey Dance it's ideal for supporting the enormous scaffolding that has become its trademark.

Company members and technical staff have been working since last weekend to install the sets and video screens for the Boston premiere of "Endangered Species," which opens this evening for a two-night run. The unique event is the first installment of the Boston Center for the Arts' new "Dance Series at the Cyclorama."

Some dance fans might remember Jeremy Alliger's aerial dance festival, or the contemplative rituals by the bugaku-inspired company Jo Ha Kyu that appeared at the Cyclorama several years ago. Though most dancers find that much elbow room daunting, the performers of Wire Monkey Dance couldn't be more thrilled.

"It's great!" said Jennifer Polins, co-artistic director, choreographer and administrative director for the company. "It's an amazing space, very beautiful. We are very psyched about being there."

The 31-year-old Polins received her early dance training at Boston Ballet, then performed with the Joffrey Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet as a teenager. Her career led her to Switzerland, where she danced with the Zurich Opera Ballet before forming her own modern-based company, Pool. She traveled around Europe and America making dances and teaching with Saliq Francis Savage, a 37-year-old dancer in the contact improvisation tradition who serves as general artistic director of Wire Monkey Dance.

"We live in Western Massachusetts now, which is an important center for contact improvisation, and it was relatively easy to form a company and create work there," said Polins. "We have a beautiful old theater in Holyoke, where we rehearse."

The five other dancers in the company include Ione Beauchamp, Fernanda Coffers-Gaines, Jaime Greenbaum (who local audiences will recognize from his performances with Prometheus Dance and Paula Josa- Jones Performance Works), Katherine Musinsky and Mark Zemelman.

Savage and Polins have spent six months creating "Endangered Species," which they say is about "the struggle between civilization and our animal nature and technology." The performance features an original score by cellist, composer and sound designer Stephen Katz, who has also performed with the Paul Winter Consort and Pilobolus Dance Company.

Wire Monkey Dance performs at the Boston Center for the Arts' Cyclorama, tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. Tickets: $10-$15. Call (617) 426-2787.